SRSG Remarks for Media Encounter in Baidoa
Thank you, Mr. President and greetings to you and to the people of Baidoa and of South West State. This is my fourth visit to Baidoa since arriving in Somalia last June. I have had a full day programme here, and as always, am grateful for the very warm reception by President Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed and by the people of South West State.
My visit today focused on children and youth, as well as women’s empowerment.
Accompanied by the UNICEF Representative in Somalia, Werner Schultink, I saw first-hand some of the programmes which UNICEF and its partners are supporting to help provide essential services for internally displaced children and youth.
We visited an Alternative Basic Education programme that is providing vital learning opportunities to the most vulnerable and marginalized children of Somalia in an IDP camp. Many of these displaced children would not be able to access schooling without this programme, and some never had the opportunity to go to school before arriving at the camp. In Baidoa alone, more than 3,000 children are enrolled in UNICEF-supported Alternative Basic Education schools led by the Ministry of Education and its partners.
We also visited a Vocational Training Centre where 200 young people have been trained in a variety of skills to enter the work-force – like plumbing, basic electronics, solar panel installations and building of latrines. Both young women and young men are learning these skills – breaking down gender barriers and underscoring that women are not limited in what they can do. There are no boundaries.
Here in Baidoa today, as in other parts of Somalia and all around the world, the UN family is celebrating International Women’s Day, which highlights the need for gender equality. Of particular relevance for Somalia is the importance of women’s political participation.
In this respect, I congratulate the South West State administration for its efforts to promote women’s empowerment and political representation. This was illustrated during the recent District Council formation in Dinsoor. I hope that the Dinsoor model, in which women now hold 10 of 21 seats, can set the standard for other upcoming political processes in Somalia.
While on the topic of elections, I would also like to welcome the South West State’s efforts to form – as per the state’s constitution – a new regional Assembly that will be properly selected and represent the various South West State communities.
The UN has offered support to this assembly-formation process through training of the Technical Selection Committee, and I commend the South West State authorities for ensuring women’s representation as mandated in the state constitution.
So, on International Women’s Day, and the occasion of my visit to Baidoa, thank you again Mr. President, and thank your team also for hosting us on this wide-ranging and productive visit.